Evidence of militarisation is everywhere – most recently in the sphere of higher education.  The armed forces are involved with development projects, in welfare, and in farming. They are even involved in city beautification, the maintenance of playgroups and shops, of course Sports, and now higher education.  Their increased presence is evident in subtle changes in our daily lives.  The large number of ‘yu ha’ vehicles dropping and picking up school-going children is one that confronts me each school day.

Militarisation is, however, not just confined to their conspicuous presence in public spaces but extends to public acceptance and reinforcement of an attitude that glorifies the forces which in turn enables the process of militarization. The military does not operate through a process of consensus building and does not, in general, function according to democratic principles. While those at the lower rungs of the military hierarchy bear the brunt of this oppressive system, civil society is not immune.

Last week, while I was shopping at a boutique, a person in uniform leaned into the shop to ask the person behind the counter to clean the portion of the street in front of the shop – technically the responsibility of the municipality. The shopkeeper agreed without argument. A few yards away from the boutique, I encountered municipal workers in fierce discussion with their supervisor. They had been ordered to clean a private residence. They were upset because their role was to clean public places, not private property. The supervisor’s response, ‘egollanta monawath kiyanna ba’ (we can’t say anything to those people) illustrates the crux of the problem – the lack of space for discussion when interacting with the armed forces. The incident also demonstrates our ambivalence in protesting or resisting their orders, because to many of us the recent cleanliness of the city is a welcome change. The command and control methods used in the military, its methods of training to resolve disputes through force, its inculcation of perceptions of entitlement as a result of military glorification, make the armed forces dangerous in a democracy. This is especially so, when the military enters higher education as we see today.

Militarisation is counter to the essence of higher education. It contradicts the ideals of higher education as a democratic space that fosters free and critical thinking. It also threatens the autonomy of universities, which is established in law, because universities need that freedom to perform their role in society. The effect of the military in higher education is multidirectional and has increased gradually.

  1. Leadership taught in Military Camps. Perhaps the most public are the leadership programmes which were held for prospective university entrants at military camps. Conspicuously absent from these programmes were institutions of higher education and the procedures of curriculum evaluation that are generally followed to ensure their quality. Instead the programmes by their very location at military camps, had the involvement of the armed forces.
  2. Minister’s Vision of Future Education. Mr. Ranawaka, in statements issued to the papers, proposes that military knowledge be taught at schools and universities in the future. These were some of his ideas for reforming education and higher education and are based on a submission he made to the President and the Ministry of Higher Education
  3. Security functions of the Universities through the Defense Ministry. The decision to hire a firm of ex-service people, under the Ministry of Defense, for all universities, circumvents the university level administration that typically makes such decisions.
  4. Provision of Higher Education. Unlike other State institutions, the military has its own university as of 2009, the Kothalawala Defense University (KDU, which is interestingly fee levying and includes a Faculty of Medicine). It falls under the purview of the Defense Ministry. As a result of a much higher pay for officers who teach and better resources for teaching and research for those attached through the officer cadre, relative to other universities, KDU has access to  resources that are unavailable in traditional universities. 
  5. The Provision of Services to the Military. Whether in the name of patriotism, nation building, or otherwise, many staff members at universities provide professional advice to the armed forces. These relationships are at times formalized through the Faculty Boards of Faculties or through other agreements. While such relationships are no different from agreements with other state institutions and are healthy for both the universities and the country, they again reinforce a presence of the military in these institutes of higher education. The fact that these relationships are increasing gives more credence to the level of involvement of the military in activities that are not within their purview such as in construction and farming, and city beautification as mentioned earlier.

In each of the instances the armed forces and its resources are gradually changing the face of higher education. While the State universities’ role in higher education is gradually reduced, even in terms of administering themselves and in determining the content of their education (such as with the leadership programme), the military’s has increased. The State University system is starved of resources and yet the military’s seems to be abundant.

The involvement of the military in higher education should be at the least questioned and debated, but such debate is difficult. To illustrate, unlike private educational institutions, which have been opposed by various groups (for example, protests against the Malambe private medical school and the Private Educational Bill), the public seems more hesitant to protest issues surrounding the military. This is to a small extent because the sheer size of the military today means that most of us have family or close friends attached to it. To a greater extent, this is because the armed forces are viewed as noble and heroic and thus unworthy of criticism.  However these emotionally evocative images associated with the armed forces are just another facet of militarization.

The military has a very specific role that does not include stadium building, selling food, and definitely not military style education and leadership building of the civil society. There are institutions that are designed to provide these services, which have done a good job in the past considering the resources available to them. In the education sector, these are institutions that have given us much to be proud of. They have created a population that has much greater access to education, than their counterparts in neighbouring countries. Compared to these other countries, Sri Lanka provides better access to education to the poor and to women – two groups that typically have trouble accessing such services.  While these services need to be improved, using the military to do so should not be an option. We must engage with the institutions charged with the services we want made better. For instance, we must increase the budgets for education so that educational institutes may provide better service and higher educational institutes may serve a larger population of the country.

The end of war did not bring about a decrease in the strength of the military, but its expansion. It also brought about institutions which were outside the purview of the military, such as the Urban Development Authority, under it and brought military influence on institutions such as higher education. Instead of providing opportunities for those who saw combat to move to institutions that could help them transition to non-military work, the Government has sought to increase the strength and breath of the armed forces. We should not accept military institutions, which are not equipped to listen, negotiate and be made accountable to the public, as a solution to needs of the civil society.  This is especially true of higher education with its ideals of a democratic space which should promote free and critical thinking.

Shamala Kumar, Ph.D., is attached to the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya.

  • James Angleton

    Agreed with effects of militarization. However its worth to note that people of Diaspora who will surely comment on this post never raised their voices when LTTE militarized entire Tamil society ,recruited child soldiers etc. and indeed tried to white wash their crimes.

    • @ James Jesus Angleton chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) counterintelligence (CI) staff from 1954 to 1975…two wrongs don’t make a right.

      Also please note that it’s not only people of the Diaspora who comment on the sorry state of affairs in this country.

      • James Angleton

        Dear Bean

        Two wrongs does not make one right , I agree.
        But turning blind eye to one wrong and highlighting the other is also wrong and hypocritical. This is a characteristic that born again ,holy roller human rights activists of the Tamil Diaspora display in abundance .
        And also I agree with you it not only Tamil Diaspora that point out sorry state of affairs of this country . But the distinction given here is because those of the Diaspora have ulterior motives. They strive to get International Community slap economic and other sanctions on this country . If that happens ,it would be not be Rajapakse’s who would suffer as you obviously know, but ordinary folks. This is why we should never make a common cause with the Diaspora and their activities against this country should be resisted in all fronts. And remember even with economic sanctions Burmese Junta rules the roost while ordinary people get a double whammy.Ditto in North Korea and Zimbabwe.
        Think about it.

      • myil selvan

        Are you James Angleton or James Angleton, Jr.? Could you answer to your CIA role?

        Sanctions would make the common people suffer, true. But the Rajapakses were elected by a majority of the common people, they did have a say. So that would mean the common people are also partly responsible.

        Don’t forget Burma (Myanmar)Junta is not democratically elected. They usurped power. North Korea, same story. Only difference it is a dictatorship not military junta. Zimbabwe also seems to have turned that way when Mugabe terrorised Tsivangirai and he ran to a foreign mission.

        But in Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse is popular among the people (mainly sinhalese) and he was elected by them, even though there were violations of election laws. So the people also bear some responsibilities for MR’s actions.

      • James Angleton

        myil selvan

        Rest assured I’m not a paranoid house cleaner like my namesake ,the legendary counterintelligence guru,in whom I got interested after watching Robert De Nero’s Good Shepard and reading Robert Littel’s The Company.
        So you are bringing up the theory of The Good Sinhalese .
        Great !! Some others are gonna suffer too in case you haven’t noticed. Of course this never matters to your ilk. Like it was OK for Osama the “collateral damage” of Muslims in WTC or for that matter it was OK for Diaspora the Prabhakaran’s use of children as cannon fodder, end justifies the means of getting rid of hated enemy Mahinda Rajapakse.

  • Neville Perera

    There are nearly 20 million in Sri Lanka. What’s the number of Sri Lankan diaspora?

  • Neville Perera

    Some who are not yet diaspora:
    J.Dhanapala to LLRC, 2010:”Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens’’.
    M. Moonasinghe to LLRC, 2010:
    ‘’… so, who started terrorism – it was we – and then gradually naturally the youth, Tamil youth, went into terrorism in the north. … So terrorism did not come on its own. We created them sir, we created them. ….’’
    Prof Priyan Dias to LLRC, 2011:
    ‘’No one is asking now whether it is “we” who are responsible for the LTTE uprising. I think as a society we need to have that sense of guilt, have that sense of blame that we are responsible for this happening and it is only out of that sense of guilt that we can move forward.’’
    C. Jayaratne, 2010: ‘’…… Years of inequitable allocation of national resources and consequential disparities in regional economic development, infrastructure development and public service delivery have sown the seeds of discontent and disillusionment leading to conflict, insurrections of the South and the North and even the armed struggle towards a separate administration ….”

    • Cheena

      Who created murder? We sir, we. Who created robbery? We sir, we. Who created rape? We sir, we. Who created civilization? They sir, They?

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Shamala Kumar,

    Some would think this all quite normal…..

    Need your gutter fixed? Call 877 ARMY.

    Be afraid! They are every where!

    Major General Shavendra Silva – Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York

    Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda – Ambassador to Japan

    Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody – High Commissioner to Pakistan

    General Jagath Dias – Deputy Ambassador to Germany with accreditation to Switzerland and Holy See

    • @georgethebushpig

      General Jagath Dias was asked to step down as Deputy Ambassador to Germany with accreditation to Switzerland and Holy See recently due to allegations of involvement in war crimes…lets see what happens to Major General Shavendra Silva and the rest. Only time will tell…

  • Rodger

    James Angleton
    I wonder why the President aborted Udalagama commission soon after the war, why the President has not published the ir report into the six completed cases, why the President refuses to publish the report by APRC which he appointed and let them sit 127 sessions and asked them to wind up soon after the war and refuses to publish their recommendations, why hundreds of murders in 2006/7/8 outside the Vanni are not investigated?
    Democracy, Rajapakse-style?

    • James Angleton

      Rodger

      Perhaps these are the questions that you should pose to President himself as I’m sure you can write to the Presidential Secretariat.

  • Cheena

    There is, for sure, a threat to the nation by high militarization. Its highest threat in not to the higher education but to the president himself. He will be the first one to go.
    So the argument that somehow politicians are militarizing the country for their benifit is at most challengable. Higher education has been militerized for a long time. I hope people have not forgotten two JVP uprisings which started from higher educaiton institutes.

  • dinuk

    Good piece! Let us concerned citizens start a boycott of ALL military businesses (Shops, cafes, Navy Dolphine Tours, Air force Heli tours etc.) not because we dislike the armed forcces but because we oppose the Rapajakse Bros’ Inc POLICY OF MILITARIZING Sri Lanka. This is military mission and mandate creep which will undermine the discipline of the military and blur civil military lines in the long run.

    • @dinuk

      In another country this would be possible, but not here. Here a majority of the people are so servile that I wont be surprised if Uriah Heep, a character created by Charles Dickens in his novel David Copperfield was based on somebody from Sri Lanka. 😀

    • You might as well piss at the moon. It’ll be a lot more effective.

  • rusx

    I think what we’re overlooking is the nature of this militarisation. It’s not a sort of militarisation that strengthens the power and the breadth of the military, as I see it. At least, that’s not all that is happening. What’s happening seems more like a case of the military is turning in to a private security working on behalf of those in power, which, I think makes it much more scary and dangerous.

  • Nihal Perera

    The university and the military have absolutely nothing in common. Just by observing which one came first in the annals of civilization, one can see that the university environment is far more conducive to higher-order thinking (the basis of modern society), than is its primitive military counterpart. The military exists as a tool of political expediency. There is little in the way of rationality, as far as a military is concerned.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shamala Kumar,

    Lets hear the views of some participants.

    ETV Lanka, program on leadership training http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb1VAMWz0D4 views of a Muslim lady participant and a Sinhalese male participant

    Chandula Kumbukage (not a participant) states “This writer managed to speak with a cross-section of students who took part in the first session of this training programme. According to these students, the training was not as bad as expected at the beginning and whilst flagging some shortcomings, they also highlighted positive outcomes of the programme. Contrary to speculation, the students had not been subjected to military training as confirmed by the students who spoke to this writer”
    groundviews.org/2011/07/04/university-students-military-and-the-leadership-programme-observations-on-the-first-session-2/

    Recently a female participant in the program wrote an article in GroundViews with pictures, where she enumerated the pros and cons of the program. I could not trace this article but I believe she was more appreciative of the program than critical of it.

    A participant, Madushani,who was an asthmatic patient, died of pneumonia after returning home on completion of training as a result of being exposed to the cold morning air while undergoing physical training sessions at the Diyathalawa military camp (according to news reports). However any pre existing illnesses was required to be reported by way of a medical certificate and this has not been done in her case.

    Ragging

    The university of Peradeniya has been criticized for its high level of ragging with several incidents grabbing national headlines. These include the death of S. Varapragash in 1997 due to kidney failure following severe ragging by a group of eight Tamil senior students and the permanent disability of Rupa Rathnaseeli in 1975 as a result of having jumped from the second floor of the hostel Ramanathan Hall to escape the physical ragging being carried out by the seniors. She later committed suicide in 1997 (Wiki)

    Ragging was outlawed in 1998 by the Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No. 20. Punishment is severe for the guilty, two years rigorous imprisonment or ten years if sexual harassment or grievous hurt is involved and expulsion depending on the seriousness of the offence. Yet ragging continues and we have University teachers who cannot put their house in order pontificating about leadership training.

    In 2002, Samantha Vithanage, a third year Management student at the Sri Jayawardenapura University, pioneered an anti-ragging campaign in the University in an attempt to stop the practice. On November 7th that year, the anti-ragging campaigners sat down for a discussion with the JVP controlled student council who defended the practice. Midway through the discussion, a mob of around 200 JVP supporters armed with clubs and stones stormed into the room and viciously attacked Vithanage and others in the anti-ragging camp. The attackers stabbed their victims with shards of glass and Vithanage who was struck, fell to the floor and had a computer monitor dropped on his head. Two days later he died.
    http://groundviews.org/2009/11/30/ragging-in-our-universities-a-symptom-or-a-disease/

    What effective steps have been taken by the University Staff of which Shamala Kumar, Ph.D.,is a member, to stop ragging?

    Shamala you state that “The large number of ‘yu ha’ vehicles dropping and picking up school-going children is one that confronts me each school day”

    What do you intend to convey by the above statement?
    Does it have any relevance to your subject matter?
    Not unless you can prove that these “Yu Ha” vehicles are replacements for civilian school buses.
    You have not even attempted to do that have you?
    Is it not just plain and simple innuendo?

    So why did you write what you wrote?

    Mischievous Shamala mischievous.

    You see Shamala you seem to have lost all sense of rationality.
    Who are the children that are transported by these “Yu ha” Vehicles?
    Children of Army personal or just children of the General public?
    Do you think that Army personal don’t have school going children?

    You seem to have a professional jealousy towards the KDA.

    BTW, what is wrong with the forces being utilised in development? You wrote “The armed forces are involved with development projects, in welfare, and in farming. They are even involved in city beautification, the maintenance of playgroups and shops, of course Sports,,,,,,” pray please tell us what is wrong with that?

    Sri Lanka has a large Armed Force that was necessitated by the need to win a war against a ruthless enemy. Are you advocating demobilising large numbers and adding them to the unemployed without using them usefully to develop the country? What an ungrateful nation we would be to rob those who gave life and limb so that we can live in peace.

    Now why don’t you use your Ph.D training to analyse the effects of this much criticised program on University Ragging? The ragging that you could not stop, in spite of it being declared a criminal offence by Law?

    • Ravana

      BTW, what is wrong with the forces being utilised in development? You wrote “The armed forces are involved with development projects, in welfare, and in farming. They are even involved in city beautification, the maintenance of playgroups and shops, of course Sports,,,,,,” pray please tell us what is wrong with that?

      At least one of the reasons is that military is traditionally a brutalising organisation (initiations far worse than University initiation could ever be) which are created for the express purpose of establishing a force ready for violence at the behest of the state. They are like dogs created for guard duty. Only to be let out in extreme circumstances and must be trained for extreme discipline as well as violence. In most progressive countries such forces kept well away from civilian contact.

      However, there are Defence Universities which turn out plenty of graduates who are part of the Reserves who lead normal civilian lives and jobs. You cannot be a soldier and have a civilian job at the same time. It is recipe for disaster in any management model. You have to actually be released from military duty to become a civilian worker.

      What would have been appropriate if Sri Lanka required a large battle ready force was to create a reserve force of trained professionals (e.g. Management, IT, Engineering, Law, Psychology, Paramedical, Aeronautics, Explosive Handling etc) who could deploy their skills in the civilian sphere and to be called up only in case of emergency. That would have taken away the necessity to militarise Civilian Universities which have quite a different role as the author has implied. You have to experience such an education and have also experienced the nature of military-like-training to appreciate the difference. But those who have only experienced the freedom of thought provided in a Civilian University know when they are being screwed without having had military training.

      If those kids whom you claimed they liked the training in military camps had the choice they could have applied to a Defence University. Those who simply did not want anything to do with the military did not need to feel compelled to attend the camps with the implied threat of losing their University entry. As much as how SLFP sycophants claimed they had choice (after the fact) we could all see the writing on the wall for the kids.

      Your attempt at refuting the cogent arguments of the author are no better than the typical arguments by former LTTE agents to justify their crimes by distracting the discussion in a different and irrelevant direction. Politicisation of Education in Sri Lanka which is another evil altogether cannot be posed as a justification for inviting in the guard dogs.

      I invite all Sri Lankans to read George Orwell prophetic book “Animal Farm”, which is a parody of the politics of the Cold War (from the point of view of Russian Peasants). Here is the link to Chapter One:

      http://www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/0.html

      Those of you who have difficulty reading or are impatient why don’t you just move straight onto Chapter 10, speed down to the end and read the last three paragraphs. Happy reading and see if the cynic in you is titillated. Some one should do a Sinhala translation and put it on the web!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Ravana and Shamala Kumar,

        You wrote “At least one of the reasons is that military is traditionally a brutalising organisation …

        I do not agree with your contention that a “military is traditionally a brutalising organisation” as a modern military is trained in self control.

        “….(initiations far worse than University initiation could ever be) ……

        What initiation is worse than Death by Torture or Paralysis for Life by Torture which lead to the victim committing suicide? The pontificating University Don’s could not prevent it, could they?

        “……… which are created for the express purpose of establishing a force ready for violence at the behest of the state. They are like dogs created for guard duty. ….. “

        Assuming you are correct (though I disagree), would you then keep that large force within the control of military discipline or set them free amongst the Public, by demobilising them? Remember that you have characterised them as “Guard Dogs”

        “…..Only to be let out in extreme circumstances and must be trained for extreme discipline as well as violence ……”

        Your statements do not add up. If they have EXTREME DISCIPLINE why do you think they will lose self control when amongst civilians? An exponent in Karate can kill with one blow. Yet quite a number of civilians including children are trained in that sport. They do not act like dogs just because they have the capacity to kill do they?

        “…… In most progressive countries such forces kept well away from civilian contact. “

        And which countries are they?
        You are very free with unsubstantiated statements.

        USA demobbed those who fought in their many wars (including Vietnam where Mai Lai was possible) and let those ex soldiers (synonymous with “guard dogs” in your vocabulary) lose amongst the Public. I suppose USA is excluded from your “List of Progressive States”?

        Which of your progressive countries don’t Demobilise their soldiers?

        “However, there are Defence Universities which turn out plenty of graduates who are part of the Reserves who lead normal civilian lives and jobs.

        You must be referring to foreign defence Universities though you have failed to name any, the KDU trains regulars not reservists.

        “…..You cannot be a soldier and have a civilian job at the same time. It is recipe for disaster in any management model……”

        Whether they are part of the reserves or a part of the regulars they undergo the same training in fighting with weapons and limbs. According to you, that training converts them to Brutes (dogs). Are they then fit to mix with civilians?

        “…..You have to actually be released from military duty to become a civilian worker.

        So release from military duty will erase the training and capacity for violence and killing that they have already acquired?

        Don’t you think that is a Juvenile expectation, if indeed that training, had already turned them into “Guard Dogs”?

        “What would have been appropriate if Sri Lanka required a large battle ready force was to create a reserve force of trained professionals (e.g. Management, IT, Engineering, Law, Psychology, Paramedical, Aeronautics, Explosive Handling etc) who could deploy their skills in the civilian sphere and to be called up only in case of emergency.”

        We are discussing about the existing large battle hardened force a large portion of which is currently redundant. Since the participating students have stated that they did not get military training, are you writing about a hypothetical future force of your imagination?

        With your argument you cannot even demobilise them as they are dangerous amongst civilians, so what do you propose to do? Lanka cannot afford to keep them idling. The question is, how do you keep them profitably occupied, if retained within the military, in order to give them employment? Please share your wisdom.

        “That would have taken away the necessity to militarise Civilian Universities which have quite a different role as the author has implied”

        Which Civilian University has been militarised?

        The Author has implied many things, even the sight of children of armed personal coming to school in Army vehicles is interpreted as militarisation of Civil Society. That is calculated Mischief as the fact that Army Vehicles were transporting children of Armed Forces personnel was suppressed to mislead the Readers of GV. Are you also trying to substantiate the False and Mischievous statement that the Army registered Vehicles were transporting children of Civil Society?

        “You have to experience such an education and have also experienced the nature of military-like-training to appreciate the difference …..”

        Where did you gain that experience? In Sri Lanka or abroad?
        If in Lanka, was it in the 130 year old National Cadet Corps (NCC)?

        The NCC was established in 1881 at Royal College Colombo and those Cadets were very much younger than the University entrants that we are discussing here. It now has 20 Battalions spread throughout the Country’s Schools. Additionally there is an Air Wing, a Naval Wing, a Police Wing, an Eastern Band and a Western Band. All of them have to undergo direct MILITARY training under the Armed Forces at military camps, which includes Weapons Training.

        By Law, the Director of the NCC should be from the SL Army and must have military experience. He is appointed under Section 38 of the Manpower Mobilization and Auxiliary Force Act (Act No10 of 1985). The Director is responsible for the administration, training, discipline, and efficiency of the Corps. He is also responsible to the Minister of Defence for the command and control of the NCC.

        The First Director of the National Cadet Corps was Major General E. D. Thevanayagam VSV. an Ethnic Tamil.

        So though you may not have been aware, the Armed Forces of this country, has been training School going Children, very much younger to these University entrants, for 130 years and currently, they include young school girls as well.

        Their 130 year experience in training young school children makes them eminently qualified in imparting training to OLDER University entrants, which is less rigorous than what the younger school going children of the NCC undergo.

        It is possible that some ignoramus would interpret this 130 Year old movement as Militarisation of Schools.

        “…But those who have only experienced the freedom of thought provided in a Civilian University know when they are being screwed without having had military training. …

        Cannot understand what you are trying to say here, even when taken together with the previous sentence and the sentence before that. Please elaborate. You seem to be arguing with yourself Ravana.

        “If those kids whom you claimed they liked the training in military camps …… “

        Hey slow down. I did not claim anything of the sort. How did you fail to notice that? Oversight or a problem of comprehension? Or was that Deliberately slipped in?

        The claim has been made by participants themselves. That includes one young Lady who wrote an article here on GV some time back. Probably GV can help by providing a link to that (I could not find it) as even Shamala Kumar and Ravana seems ignorant of the participants views.

        “………. had the choice they could have applied to a Defence University”

        I am not aware that the KDU is open to Civilians. Can you please provide proof?

        “Those who simply did not want anything to do with the military did not need to feel compelled to attend the camps with the implied threat of losing their University entry”

        If this Leadership Training is intended to stop the depravity of Ragging that I have detailed in my first posting then compulsion is justified as three lives have already been prematurely extinguished. Neither the University Staff nor the Student body has been successful in stopping it.

        These are future leaders of Lanka. Depraved ragging will inculcate such behaviour in the victims and the desire to inflict that pain on future entrants. Molested become Molesters of the Future. Depravity MUST be eliminated at the source.

        Several young and intelligent lives have already been snuffed out and that cannot be allowed to happen any more. Shouting about academic freedom because the new entrants were given a compulsory leadership training to instil discipline and self confidence to oppose ragging does not cut any ice, as that same academia shirked their duty to civil society, to create and maintain a safe environment, within the University System, to allow those who enter its portals to pursue their studies. That the Academia and the Student body failed in performing their Civic Duty needs no further proof than the Deaths that occurred at different times. I referenced three such deaths.

        1. Rupa Rathnaseeli Permanantly paralysed in 1975 commits suicide in 1997

        2. S. Varapragash died of Kidney failure as a result of severe ragging in 1997

        3. Samantha Vithanage, a third year student, death due to a crushed skull and stabbing for attempting to stop ragging in 2002 even after ragging was made a Criminal Offence in 1998

        I am aware of several parents who have refused to send their children to Sri Lankan Universities due to raging and have instead, opted to send them overseas. These parents had the means to do it. What about the poor parents who depend on the Mahapola Scholarships for sustenance?

        Are their rights to be trampled to satisfy the ego of a few?

        None of this would have happened if Academia of Universities did not shirk their responsibility to Civil Society.

        Here is proof that elimination of Ragging was a Prime objective of the Leadership Program.

        Quote
        Dilini, is psyched out about the training and says she’s ready to face whatever the raggers throw her way. “At the beginning we were confused about what to expect but we found out that is wasn’t military training. It was leadership training designed to empower us,” she says. “There were lots of long term benefits”, she adds, “everything they taught us was practical. University graduates don’t get this sort of practical knowledge. Speaking about how ragging was addressed at the training programme she shares, “They are trying to put a stop to it. There were lectures on ragging. How it started and how now it’s gone out of hand and our batch will be the first to stand up to it”

        Dilini believes there’s no way to brining a close to ragging externally, having gone through the ‘Leadership training she’s of the firm belief that it’s up to the students to bring about change. “It’s terrible that we are going to face it,” she considers for a moment before she adds, “but we’ve been taught to be courageous.”
        http://sundaytimes.lk/110710/Magazine/sundaytimesmirror_01.html
        End quote

        Of course there are opposing views but the above is a statement from a participant that proves that elimination of depraved ragging within our Universities was and is an objective of this compulsory leadership training.

        “Your attempt at refuting the cogent arguments of the author ….. “

        Such as the Army Vehicles transporting Children of Army personnel to school? Unfortunately both you Ravana and the Author are GUILTY of suppressing the TRUTH by misleading the GV readership to believing that those children were children of CIVILIAN parents and not that of Military personnel. You have prostituted the word cogent.

        “…..are no better than the typical arguments by former LTTE agents to justify their crimes by distracting the discussion in a different and irrelevant direction

        Were have I confused you?
        Everything I have written I have written with references unlike your unsupported statements and innuendo just like that of Shamala Kumar.

        What is irrelevant?
        The three deaths I have enumerated?
        You should tell that to the parents and relations of those who died due to the abject neglect of the Academia of the Universities (that includes the author Shamala Kumar, who by the way has not responded to my post yet).

      • Ravana

        Off the Cuff,

        I repeat what I said before:

        Your attempt at refuting the cogent arguments of the author are no better than the typical arguments by former LTTE agents to justify their crimes by distracting the discussion in a different and irrelevant direction.

        I rest my case.

        You are really worked up aren’t you? Better go and have beer at the SSC. Me? I was too busy watching the unofficial Rugby World Cup final.

      • Dear Off the Cuff;

        Ravana has never brought up a single sound argument rather than narrating his fantasies. He utters whatever advantageous to eelamists without any evidence or sound arguments. When challenged he always hide like a snail in his smelling shell. I challenged him several times, but he never responded. Like many other posters posed as Sinhalese by Sinhala names, my guess is Ravana is none other than a disguised Tamil eelamist. His venture does not point to any other direction.

        Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        My dear Ravana,
        You wrote, “I repeat what I said before: Your attempt at refuting the cogent arguments of the author …….I rest my case.”

        And I repeat what I said before, You do not know the meaning of COGENT and have prostituted the word. Else how can you state that Army vehicles dropping children of Army personnel in school is Militarisation of Civil Society? To cap it all you call it a cogent argument. What logic!!!

        Ha ha ha …… you have no case to rest!!!
        Let alone you, even the Author has gone Dumb.

        You wrote “You are really worked up aren’t you? Better go and have beer at the SSC. Me? I was too busy watching the unofficial Rugby World Cup final”

        Sorry to disappoint you, I have been on GV for too long and have met many with inflated egos, to get worked up by what they write. That is why I can write factual comments capable of deflating them. BTW you are not the first nor will you be the last.

        Lick your wounded ego and have a cool beer. I am a teetotaller who never needed canned or bottled spirits to lift my spirits. With guys like you around who needs any other stimulant? Thanks for the enterainment.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Yapa,

        Yes I have read your arguments and his puny replies. I have also seen him taking on DJ but with little affect. Some time back, there was a claim that Dark people are taken to be Tamils, as if Tamils are dark and the Sinhalese are fair. They do not know that even historically Sinhalese have been described as dark. A famous one is “The Great Black Sinhala is fleeing……”

        His ego is such that he will start some comments with “Take it from me…..”

        Unlike the Mythical Ravana, the current imitation tucks it’s tail between it’s legs.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Georgethebushpig,

        You wrote “What would you prefer, the authority of using the monopoly of force to reside with the military complex, or an elected body that is accountable to you and me (which still remains a work in progress)?”

        Of course there should be checks and balances not only in the use of the Military but also in governance.

        You wrote “Wouldn’t it be better if the peace dividend was spent on training military personnel with skills that will allow them to reintegrate into civil society and contribute to nation building? ”

        Yes of Course, but is that what the writer and his proponents are arguing about?

        You wrote “A structured demobilization is what we need not farmer/fighters or tea boutique/deep penetration units.”

        Now you have lost the rationality that you displayed so far. What has deep penetration units got to do with the current discussion?

        You wrote “What was ominous was the President’s choice of country to visit straight after the war – Myanmar!”

        What is ominous about it? Again you are slipping in to irrationality.

        You wrote “Ironically, since then, while Myanmar has taken steps in the right direction to change from a military dictatorship to a democracy, Sri Lanka is heading in the opposite direction!”

        How so? We still elect our government don’t we?.
        Don’t allow your anger to drown your rationality.

      • Nihal Perera

        [b] At least one of the reasons is that military is traditionally a brutalising organisation [/b]

        Well said, Ravana. I remember as a child there was a cartoon, in which a barber asked a 6-yr old boy how he liked the haircut. The boy pretended to be happy, while in sarcastic terms it was written, “never criticize a man with a razor.” How do you reason/negotiate with someone carrying a weapon? Simple answer: very delicately. A soldier is not a teacher nor a humanitarian, nor a philosopher, nor an intellectual of any sort. He blindly follows orders at any cost. As you have pointed out, he is more akin to the Hound of The Baskervilles, ready to be let loose at his (political) master’s beckoning. We should take extra care to ensure the cage containing such a creature is made of the strongest material. It is unfortunate that this basic idea is lost on the larger society.

      • Ravana

        Yapa/Yuppie,
        I have answered you with alacrity in the past but GV censored it because (presumably) I cheerfully called you Yuppie. Having considered that you might be one of their favourites or that they are fearful of you I have refrained from replying to you (aside from the fact that your comments are often inane and racist).

        BTW, whilst I would be proud to be called Tamil, I am afraid I am a suddha sinhala (heh heh). OTOH I am partial to Tamils and think that they are on the whole more dignified and trustworthy than your average sinhala. This is not because they are genetically different to you but because they know what it is like to be treated as second class citizens. Thus they are naturally more sensitive about such things as trust, dignity etc. If you were to rape your sister she would also treat you as her enemy. The same goes for our kith and kin who speak Tamil. I hope the guys at GV have the intestinal fortitude to publish this comment in its entirety.

        As I have returned after a few days break I am yet to reply to your revelation of an illicit liaison with one Wathsala from a DBSJ column (as occurs on another article on this site on a reply to DBJS). A very school boyish attempt at denying Tamil rights and their genetic closeness to us. Expect a detailed critique when I have an hour or so.

        OTC/Cuffie,

        Some time back, there was a claim that Dark people are taken to be Tamils, as if Tamils are dark and the Sinhalese are fair.

        Have you heard of a figure of speech called irony? My, you seem to carry a long memory of small things. I hope I haven’t traumatised you in some way. BTW, don’t worry about DJ and I. We do understand each other and even respect each other. I can’t help it if you are not in the league.

        BTW, I assumed that you were worked up because your writing appeared somewhat disordered and long winded. I just couldn’t be bothered wading through it. 🙂 Don’t be bitter. Just write a shorter reply with some original argument next time.

      • Ravana

        Nihal Perera,

        Well said, Ravana

        No worries mate.

      • yapa

        My Dear Ravana;

        “As I have returned after a few days break I am yet to reply to your revelation of an illicit liaison with one Wathsala from a DBSJ column (as occurs on another article on this site on a reply to DBJS). A very school boyish attempt at denying Tamil rights and their genetic closeness to us. Expect a detailed critique when I have an hour or so.”

        Do it soon. Why delaying? The school boy is awaiting you.

        Thanks! (Yuppie)

      • Off the Cuff

        My Dear Ravana,

        If resorting to the Primary school habit of coining nicknames provides you satisfaction, please go ahead but that is no replacement for a rational argument expected from an intelligent Adult.

        My post that you are referring to is a point by point reply to yours. If you claim it is disordered and long winded then you should refer back to your own comment. Such claims are typical of a person who is bankrupt and who cannot make a logical counter reply.

        You wrote “Have you heard of a figure of speech called irony? My, you seem to carry a long memory of small things. I hope I haven’t traumatised you in some way “

        Oh their was no irony involved in your earlier claim that while holidaying in Lanka, with your European wife, the driver of your cab mistook you for a Tamil, due to your dark skin colour and warned you of lurking dangers for Tamils, when you visited the South. That was a cooked up tale that you wrote, to support what you wrote, at that time. You do cook up some tall tales Ravana!!!

        As I told you before, I have been on GV for too long and have met guys like you who writes fancy tales that do not stand up to critical scrutiny, to be traumatised by diatribe.

        You wrote “don’t worry about DJ and I. We do understand each other and even respect each other. ”

        Ravana, I am not worried at all but I do enjoy DJ’s replies to your tripe. As to whether DJ respects you is a matter for DJ to state. However I cannot remember him congratulating you for any of your comments!!! Respect huh?

        You wrote “I can’t help it if you are not in the league”

        Ravana, you are not in DJ’s league and assuming so, exposes your egoistic mind. It is presumptuous to say the least.

        You wrote “I just couldn’t be bothered wading through it. Don’t be bitter.”

        You of course have the liberty to read or not read what I write. You also have the liberty to refrain from replying to what I write.

        You wrote “Just write a shorter reply with some original argument next time”

        I write to expose the false claims made by you or anyone else, on GV and ONLY for the benefit of the GV Readership. I do not care whether you read and make a coherent reply or do not read and make a buffoon’s reply such as your October 21, 2011 • 3:41 pm comment.

        Assuming that I am interested in whether you read my comments or reply to them is quite egoistic and foolish.

  • silva

    Off the Cuff
    Thanks for the information on University ragging. I don’t know how far the University insisted on investigation into the deaths.
    But it is a part of much wider Sri Lankan life of the last 63 years(when we have been responsible for governing the country)that life of citizens has never been respected and hundreds of thousands of killings are uninvestigated because perpetrators have impunity.

    • Off the Cuff

      Silva,

      Strangely a section of the population is interested only in a 63 year History and try to draw a curtain on the History beyond. Is it because digging beyond that 63 years would reveal a more ignominious and horrendous past where a minority (Jaffna Vellala Tamils) of a minority (Tamils) was instrumental in suppressing and dehumanising a majority and the Non Vellala Minorities?

      Would looking beyond 63 years explain the history of the past 6 decades? Did the acts of omission and commission of centuries past and the early few decades of these 6 decades define the following decades?

      These are questions that those who try to pass the buck do not want asked and when asked would not answer.

      The question silva, is militarisation of the present, which neither you or the Author has been able to justify, by answering the counter questions raised.

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    The nation state has the monopoly on the use of force (violence to some). Force is unleashed through its military complex. In modern day democracies, the supreme governing body of the land determines when that force is to be unleashed and when it is to be reigned in. The separation of powers and checks and balances that makes up the governance structure of a country exists, among other things, to control the use of that force.

    When a situation arises where you cannot differentiate between the military complex, which has a clear terms of reference, and the governing bodies of a country then you have unclear lines of accountability and a breakdown in the governance structure.

    What would you prefer, the authority of using the monopoly of force to reside with the military complex, or an elected body that is accountable to you and me (which still remains a work in progress)?

    What was ominous was the President’s choice of country to visit straight after the war – Myanmar! Ironically, since then, while Myanmar has taken steps in the right direction to change from a military dictatorship to a democracy, Sri Lanka is heading in the opposite direction!

    Wouldn’t it be better if the peace dividend was spent on training military personnel with skills that will allow them to reintegrate into civil society and contribute to nation building? A structured demobilization is what we need not farmer/fighters or tea boutique/deep penetration units.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Georgethebushpig,

      Sorry Georgethebushpig my reply to yours is here
      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/13/militarisation-of-sri-lanka-and-its-infiltration-into-higher-education/#comment-37818

      BTW hope you will change your nom de plume as addressing you with it, looks as if we are insulting you.

      • georgethebushpig

        Dear Off the Cuff,

        I guess you haven’t been up A9 to Jaffna lately have you? Check out who is running the tea boutiques along the way. Are you also unaware of the army run vegetable stalls? Where have you been man? Hear about the 18th Amendment at least I hope? Is that a Rip or Winkle in your cuff that I see?

        If an army guy wants to open a tea boutique, prepare him for it by giving him some business training, micro-finance and off course some capacity building on how to make a good cup of tea and let him leave the army and start his own business. Why should he remain a soldier and pour kahata for southern pilgrims going on war shrine viewing wandanawas?

        A democratically elected President who surreptitiously enacts a far reaching constitutional amendment that undermines the very basis of the countries democratic institutions is hardly the example that counters the view that we are on an inexorable slide towards military dictatorship.

        When you refer to GeorgeThe… it’s lest we forget what mad men can do to wreck havoc in this world…. and our own home bred nutters are no different.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear GeorgeTBP,

      I guess you have not understood my question that was based on your comment. Let me repeat it here.

      “Now you have lost the rationality that you displayed so far. What has deep penetration units got to do with the current discussion? “

      The part that was irrational and what I have pointed out was about deep penetration units

      Your response rambles on about A9, Tea boutiques, Vegetable stalls, 18A and Rip Van Winkles etc. You write a four paragraph response but not a word about your Deep Penetration Unit.

      Haven’t you confirmed your Irrationality by your irrational ramblings?

      The Author of this article goes on a fishing trip to prove that the Leadership Training Program was tantamount to militarisation of Higher Education.

      Neither the Author, Shamala Kumar (who has gone silent) nor those who responded to my post (Ravana, Silva and You) have been able to factually counter my responses. Instead, you want to go on another fishing trip, just like the author, to discuss Rajapakse and his visit to Myanmar, Deep Penetration Units, A9, Tea Boutiques, Vegetable stalls, 18 A and what not.

      One ignoramus makes a sweeping generalisation that encompasses every military in the world by stating “…..that military is traditionally a BRUTALISING organisation” and another ignoramus says Hurrah Hurrah but neither is able to place facts about the subject matter to refute what has already been placed before the GV readership.

      Is it that difficult to stay on course and discuss the alleged Militarisation and its infiltration in to Higher Education?

      • Nihal Perera

        Off the Cuff,

        GeorgeTBP brings up some good points. The question is why the State (read as your tax money) is being used to subsidize military-run businesses. Do these soldiers have the capability to run real businesses without State assistance? As GeorgeTBP has pointed out, that requires actual knowledge of standard business practices. The size of the Sri Lankan military is 200,000, a large portion of whose members build viharas during the daytime and hand out tea to Southern tourists, with another bunch dressing up as Grease Yakas during midnight hours to rob gold jewelry. So much for being educated. We can safely conclude that this jumbo enterprise is a massive waste of public money. Unfortunately, the Commander in Chief is also the Finance Minister, so there doesn’t look to be downsizing of any sort, anytime soon.

      • georgethebushpig

        Dear OTC,

        I was responding to your question:

        “BTW, what is wrong with the forces being utilised in development? You wrote “The armed forces are involved with development projects, in welfare, and in farming. They are even involved in city beautification, the maintenance of playgroups and shops, of course Sports,,,,,,” pray please tell us what is wrong with that?”

        My apologies for not having prefaced my response with reference to the above.

        If you can’t understand the juxtaposition of tea boutique with deep penetration unit (or foot soldier or what have you) that is also part of the problem. The fact that you ask the question “what is wrong with that?” betrays either your preference for a militarizing state or worse still your ignorance of what that means.

        Is it irrational that I should want to live in a secular and pluralistic democracy?

        Do I pass your rationality test now? If not, I don’t really give a Cuff!

      • Ravana

        I don’t really cuff

        Hik Hik Hik

      • wijayapala

        Dear Nihal

        a large portion of whose members build viharas during the daytime and hand out tea to Southern tourists, with another bunch dressing up as Grease Yakas during midnight hours to rob gold jewelry.

        What is your evidence that they are dressing as Grease Yakas? And why strip down naked as greasing themselves when they can simply wear masks and bring weapons to intimidate people?

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear GeotgeTBP,

        You wrote “If you can’t understand the juxtaposition of tea boutique with deep penetration unit (or foot soldier or what have you) that is also part of the problem.”

        With what should I juxtapose “deep penetration unit”with? The real problem is your irrationality and inability to state clearly what you mean.

        You wrote “The fact that you ask the question “what is wrong with that?” betrays either your preference for a militarizing state or worse still your ignorance of what that means.”

        I have given the reasons for my question very clearly in my previous posts. Please reread them lest you have forgotten and counter them point by point.

        You wrote “Is it irrational that I should want to live in a secular and pluralistic democracy?“

        No it is not irrational.

        But finding that Utopia would be a bit difficult as even the UK and USA and most of the Western States are not really secular. Russia and China are perhaps more secular and I don’t think that you want to live there.

        Lanka was and is, not a secular state and trying to convert it to a secular state, just because you want to live here, is irrational, as that wish goes against reality.

      • georgethebushpig

        Dear OTC,

        “Really don’t mind if you sit this one out” – Thick As A Brick, Jethro Tull

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear GeotgeTBP,

        You have found a very appropriate Ode to yourself.
        Hope your irrationality wont stand in the way….

  • Hela

    It is worth noting that some of us including folks from CPA wanted a military general to be the president of the country!!

    • Ravana

      Correction. Ex-Military General.
      Obviously, many thought that risking their lot with an ex-General was better than risking the worst with the village thug. Everyone’s worst nightmares have now come true. The ruthlessness with which he has established his dictatorship indicates a bitter man who is very angry at the Sri Lankan public.
      If Elmo Perera (http://www.lankaenews.com/Sinhala/news.php?id=12851) is correct then it explains such venom.
      OTOH, the “General” whom some people were fearful of has turned out to be quite the example of a disciplined and dignified politician.

      • yapa

        BTW, How do you like militarization of the country, dear Ravana? You approve it?

        Thanks!

  • Dear friends,
    Now only you are talking about the ‘Militarization’ of the country. This is ‘Militarization’ with ‘Armed Forces.’ The actual ‘Militarization’ of the country started long ago with the imaginary and false doctrine of the Sinhala nation:Aryan – Sinhala – Sinalese – Theravada Buddhism – Lanaka with one to one correspondence.
    The Government of Sri Lanka with the aim of gathering popular support has declared to the Sinhalese people and the world that they have eradicated ‘Tamil Terrorism’in the country.
    Now the Sinhalese will start to talk about the economy, education, justice, power sharing, sharing wealth etc. This will be a threat to the politicians and the ruling class.
    The easy way to handle this great threat is the ‘Militarization’ of the country with the ‘Armed Forces!’
    So, the Tamils in the North and East will be handled in an appropriate way, and the Sinhalese in the South will also be handled in some other appropriate way.
    Look at Pakistan and other countries.
    The Sinhalese have kept their eyes closed for the last 6o years. Now only they have started to reap their harvest!